Hampshire Ornithological Society offers free membership to young birders


The Hampshire Ornithological Society (HOS) has become the first county bird club in the UK to offer free membership to young birders in full-time education, up to the age of 21. Just launched this June, it is hoped that the scheme will attract around 20 young members in its first year.

HOS Chairman, Keith Betton, explained: "We are lucky to have a thriving membership of nearly 2,000 members, but only one of those is a teenager - so we have decided to do something about it."

The idea for free membership coincided with aforementioned teenager, Tommy Saunders, writing to Keith to offer help the Society in any way he could. "This was an offer I could not refuse" said Keith, "so I immediately put Tommy in charge of youth recruitment, and thanks to a generous offer from the Cameron Bespolka Trust we have been able to remove all costs for young members."

HOS is making the offer to any young birders who visit Hampshire regularly, but they can live in neighbouring counties. It is also happy to fund the membership of Hampshire birders who are away at university.

Apart from making the membership offer, HOS has also recently hosted a weekend bird camp for teenage birders in the New Forest, working again with the Cameron Bespolka Trust and Wild New Forest. The 12 attendees saw over 100 bird species across many habitats and were able to see ringing of Northern Goshawk, Hawfinch and European Nightjar – and also experienced a wide variety of plants and animals, including over 50 species of moths.

The offer of membership will be renewed annually so long as the member wants it and still qualifies.  Anyone wishing to take up the offer should get in touch with Keith Betton via email for more details. 

You can find out more about Hampshire Ornithological Society on their website: www.hos.org.uk